India1914.com

‘Remembering Indian Soldiers’ project is a commemoration to the efforts of Indian soldiers who fought in the First World War on behalf of Britain.

The project funded is by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Golden Tours Foundation. Its key aim is mark the Centenary of WW1 and the role of Indian soldiers. One of the key elements of the project is its website, India1914.com, which carries very useful information in this specific area.

Remembering Indian Soldiers is working to profile the legacy of Indian soldiers and their important contribution during WW1. The project is looking at Indian soldiers from all the various communities and regions regardless of their race or religion. One of its primary aims is to share the heritage with the various ethnic communities, in particular with the Dharmic (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist) and Zoroastrian community in the United Kingdom. The first key event is planned for Inter Faith Week in November 2016 at the Zoroastrian Centre in north London.

This shared history is relevant as in today’s multi-faith Britain with more than a million people from these faiths have made the UK their home.

The Indian contribution during WW1 was considerable, but much of the story is missing from the public domain. India provided the largest voluntary force ever assembled in history with around 1.5 million individuals. Remembering Indian Soldiers will help broaden the engagement and understanding of WW1 among these communities, as well as within the wider public sphere. The project will be putting particular emphasis on engaging with the younger generation by providing a ‘relevancy’ framework of how their ancestor’s contribution on the world stage impacted the future paths of the two nations in terms of independence, migration and national identity.

 

The Numbers

The Indian Army provided the largest voluntary force assembled in the history of modern day conflict. This had meant that one in five soldiers available for deployment for the British cause was from an Indian background. Hindu contribution amounted to around fifty percent.

Therefore the Indian contribution to WW1 was enormous and much of it still to be discovered for the modern audience. Much of it has been missing from the history books, both in the UK and the Indian sub-continent. According to a representative poll carried out by the British Future Think Tank, only around 44% people are aware of the involvement of Commonwealth Soldiers during WW1.

Of the 1.5 million of volunteers of the Indian Military who were deployed for duty, more than 827,000 were involved in the theatre of war. More than 74,000 lost their lives and 67,000 were wounded. 13,000 soldiers received Medals for gallantry and 7 Indian soldiers were decorated with the Victoria Cross.

Around 800,000 Hindus, 400,000 Muslims and 100,000 Sikhs fought in the war. There were other soldiers from other faiths (e.g. Christianity and Zoroastrianism) whose contributions have not been fully documented and the data in this area is scarce.

The Indian Army fought against the Germans in German East Africa and on the Western Front. Over 138,000 Indian troops fought in Belgium and France during World War I. Indian divisions were also sent to Egypt, Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 served in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire. While some divisions were sent overseas others had to remain in India guarding the North West

 Photo Credits: The British Library